Red grouse numbers in northern England are higher this year than they have been since accurate counting started in the early 1980s, according to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust?s (GWCT) annual report. This year?s counts showed an average 23 per cent year-on-year population increase.

The GWCT?s Dr David Baines said: ?Since the late 1970s our research programme has shed more light on the role played by ticks and the periodic outbreaks of the parasitic grouse disease strongylosis. Our research is helping to limit the impact of diseases and we believe this is helping to reduce the regular p population crashes that occur in the uplands.?

Dr Baines attributed this year?s record to better breeding success. He said: ?We believe that birds entered the breeding season in good condition following our recommendations to moorland owners on how to reduce parasites in autumn 2010. This was achieved in spite of the long snow-bound winter, when many of the moors were abandoned by virtually all grouse, thus confirming the hardiness of the species. Birds appeared to breed earlier and chicks appeared to grow faster.?

The rest of this article appears in 17th August issue of Shooting Times.

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